White Polenta

White Polenta

Polenta Bianca is a famous Veneto side dish, with very ancient roots, that is served either hot or warm or cold, creamy but firm.  The white polenta (“mais biancoperla“) is cooked slowly in about 50 minutes until soft and firm. I was born in Venice and so I love  and am very attached to our typical traditional Polenta Bianca!
It’s difficult to find the white polenta everywhere, and maybe you are more familiar with “polenta gialla” (= yellow polenta), than white, but I assure you that the “polenta bianca” is so good, special, yummy and tasty. 
Italians like polenta  and in particular in Northern Italy they eat it in place of bread, but in the past polenta was the symbol of poverty and it has been called “la carne dei poveri (= the meat of poor people)”!
The Veneto people still are often called “POLENTONI” (= polenta eaters). Now Polenta is a new worldwide phenomenon and this dish grows in popularity around the world. The reason is because the polenta is a genuine, healthy and versatile dish. 

When I was a young girl, almost every Christmas holiday I ate polenta for lunch at my grandmother’s house.
Nonna Elisa was my grandmother, and she was the classic Veneto “nonna”.
Nonna Elisa made polenta in the traditional way. There was no such thing as instant Polenta for her.
She would make it in a very large copper kettle (called paiolo) placed on a stand set into the stove, and she would stir it for an hour or so with a long wooden spoon.
Polenta is a humble and traditional  food from the beautiful cornfield-filled region of Veneto, and Nonna Elisa was very proud of her polenta. She made it just with the best white cornmeal (called mais biancoperla or polenta bianca).
Her love for polenta was passed down to my mother and me, and there is no winter month that passes that I don’t make it.
I love it with meatballs, braised meat, sausage, and mushrooms, and also served with cheese, or in the Venetian way served with fried Calamari!
I could offer a cooking class just about polenta!

Now I am offering you my traditional recipe, but also tips and techniques for making the real and genuine Polenta in the old-fashioned way (polenta is one of the symbol of my nationality).

INGREDIENTS (to serve 8 people):

1,5 liters of water
1 spoon of salt
200 g of “polenta bianca mais biancoperla” (or yellow polenta if you don’t find it)

Polenta utensils
a polenta pan (with a round flat base, called in Venetian Paiolo)
a whisk during the initial adding of the polenta
a long wooden polenta spoon
a polenta paddle board (called in Italy “tafferia”) with a wooden knife to cut the polenta slices
(I’m very lucky to have inherited a lot family polenta utensils!!!)

Fill a round bottom polenta pan with water. 
When the water is boiling, add salt and then add the polenta and whisk very well until polenta has been added. 
Lower the heat to as low as possible of course and simmer for about 50 minutes, stirring very often with a wooden spoon. 
The polenta should be thick but smooth and soft. 
When the polenta is done, and according to Italian tradition, place the polenta on a special wooden polenta platter (called in Italy tafferia) (or in a wooden board). Cover with a clean towel. Remember to use only wooden objects when touching the polenta.

White Polenta at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes in Italy Venice
Polenta at Mama Isa’s Cooking Classes in Italy Venice

Polenta is suitable serving with many dishes, in particular saucy dishes but also with fried squids and fried shrimps or with cheese and salami or with sausages. If you are not serving the polenta at once, you can make or a delicious dish a- “polenta arrostita” (pour the polenta into a baking tray spreading it with a spatula and the polenta is cool, cut it into wedges; heat a chargrill pan and when it is hot, grill the polenta bianca until solid ridges, not too burnst, of course, form on the underside of the wedges and serve with bruschetta-like toppings like Gorgonzola cheese or Wild Porcini Mushrooms or b- “polenta fritta” (my mother often fried the leftover polenta….. yum yum) or c- “polenta pasticciata” (slice the cooled polenta, butter a baking pan, pour a layer of the polenta to cover the bottom of baking pan, cover with Bolognese Sauce Ragù and Besciamella sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano freshly grated, then continue again with another layer of polenta slices, Bolognese Sauce, Besciamella sauce, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese freshly grated and end with a layer of polenta. Cover with one or two tablespoons of melted butter and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Place the baking pan in oven (180° C) for about 30 minutes. Serve warm! Yum YUM….)

Buon Appetito!!!!!!

White Polenta at Mama Isa's Cooking School in Italy near Venice
White Polenta 

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